Valentine’s Day for Chocoholics Anonymous

Hi, my name is Carissa and I am a chocoholic. Valentine’s Day is just an excuse for me to eat as much of it as I want. My friends are coming over tomorrow night so I made these wonderful chocolate-dipped strawberry shot glasses! I bought a bottle of champagne to pour in the void of the strawberries. Can’t wait to share these with my best friends!

But as much as I love chocolate, I really didn’t know much about it until a year ago when I took a cooking class and spent an entire lecture/lab on chocolate. So I thought I would share some of my chocolate wisdom with you all – just don’t get chocolate wasted.

Chocolate CAN be good for you (in moderation) if you stick to dark chocolate.

  • Dark chocolate is full of high-quality polyphenol antioxidants
  • Cocoa beans include flavonoids (like those found in tea and red wine), which support healthy cholesterol levels and act as antioxidants
  • Chocolate delivers stearic acid, a unique fatty acid thought to be neutral for cholesterol levels

Chocolate goes on a scale and based on the percentage of cocoa beans in it. There are many forms of chocolate. White chocolate is not really chocolate because it does not come from the cocoa bean (I know, I was shocked when I discovered this!) The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better it is for you.

  • Cocoa Powder (Cocoa solids are removed from the chocolate liquor, pressed, then ground into a powder. It is primarily used for hot cocoa.)
  • Unsweetened Chocolate (You are probably most familiar with this for baking recipes. It is bitter until you add it with something else like sugar.)
  • Milk chocolate 30 to 40 percent cacao (The favorite of most Americans.)
  • Bittersweet Chocolate or semi-sweet 40 to 60 percent cacao (This is really common for baking because you will also add granulated sugar which balances it out rather than if you used milk chocolate.)
  • Dark Chocolate 60 to 85 percent cacao (The darkest chocolate is going to be quite bitter and different than what you’re used to, but it is a good way to curb your sweet craving after a meal without going overboard.)

There are two ways to melt chocolate – which you will need to know how to do in order to make chocolate covered strawberries!

Double Boiler Method: Put chopped chocolate into a double boiler or heatproof mixing bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water and stirring gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the boiling water or the chocolate may burn.)

Microwave Method: Heat chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl at half power, stopping to stir gently every 30 seconds, until completely melted and smooth. (You have to really watch it; I have burned chocolate many times using this method.)

Chocolate covered strawberries

  • 16 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips or solid block of chocolate
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Rinse the strawberries. Using a paring knife, cut the end of of the tips of the strawberries so they can stand on their own. On the other end, cut the stems off and scoop the insides out, creating a hole in the strawberries.

If you bought a block of chocolate, chop it into chunks with a serrated knife. If you are using chocolate chips, skip this step!

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth.

Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture then place the strawberries on wax paper to cool for about 15 minutes.

Fill the insides with champagne, drink, then eat and enjoy!!

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